Tech Advocacy Groups Request More IDEA Act Guidance From OMB


This is the second letter the Office of Management and Budget received in 2021 asking for improved guidelines for government organizations to update web services.

Several technology advocacy groups sent an open letter to leadership at the Office of Management and Budget requesting more federal guidance regarding the provisions in the 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act, otherwise known as the IDEA Act, specifically regarding how government offices should execute the law.

Addressed to OMB Director Shalanda Young, the Alliance for Digital Innovation, BSA | The Software Alliance, and the Software and Information Industry Association asked for OMB to flesh out stronger agency guidelines to help government organizations abide by the modernization requirements of the IDEA Act.

Passed in December 2018, the IDEA Act stipulates that executive agencies must create a publicly available website or other digital service to accommodate and facilitate public interest. It emphasizes phasing out legacy webpages and redesigning government agency websites to better serve customers looking for specific information—especially paperwork requiring signatures—within each office. 

Fundamentally, the law orders agencies to update their web presences to be universally user-friendly.

While the letter’s signatories praised the bipartisan passage of the bill and its efforts, they noted that the Trump administration didn’t offer sufficient assistance for agencies to properly implement the law. 

As a result, the organizations allege the public hasn’t fully benefited from updated government websites. 

“Today’s citizens demand robust digital interactions, akin to what they see shopping online or otherwise engaging with a private-sector business,” the letter reads. “This theme goes to the heart of what the 21st Century IDEA was intended to address and is consistent with the digitization trends we have seen in recent years.”

The organizations also noted that keeping digital government services compatible with a wide variety of devices is also critical to ensuring a positive customer experience between Americans and government agencies. 

They add that ensuring government webpages and portals accessible will continue to be crucial as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on. 

“Fully implementing the 21st Century IDEA will help ensure that the public and federal employees have secure, convenient, and equitable digital interactions with the federal government,” the letter states. “We strongly advocate OMB release federal agency implementation guidance for the 21st Century IDEA, so agencies have the funding and clarity necessary to improve the government’s customer experience and the delivery of citizen services.”

The three organizations aren’t the first entities to express a need for improved guidance from the OMB. Earlier in 2021, lawmakers on Capitol Hill issued a similar letter requesting that Young begin to implement stronger agency guidance to boost federal modernization efforts and regulatory compliance. 

“Because the Trump Administration failed to issue statutorily required guidance to assist agency implementation of the law, federal agency implementation has been inconsistent, creating uneven access to the federal government’s essential information and services,” the first letter, signed by members of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, says.